Every 1000-3000 rounds you will want to completely disassemble your frame and slide for a comprehensive cleaning. Don’t skip this vital component of maintenance.
I’ve done it. You’ve probably done it. But pulling the trigger “to be sure the gun is safe” is idiocy and is the opposite of safe gun handling. Let’s stop this idiocy now.
Then inspect your rig every day.
Screws and mechanics move over time. You don’t want to fall apart …ever, but especially at an inopportune moment.
We are at war. Since one never knows when the war will be brought by mob of leftist thugs or Islamic terrorists to the street one is driving on, it makes sense to have enhanced defense capability in one’s automobile.
My SBR goes with me everywhere.
As a matter of course, and like many responsible Americans, I am armed every waking moment with my Glock 19 (and 2 spare magazines whenever I leave the house). Additionally, I carry a RATS tourniquet and both folding and fixed-blade knives with me. Since this is a time of war, whenever I leave the house I bring my .300BLK short barreled rifle with me. My rifle is loaded, but one magazine might not prove sufficient in a situation where my vehicle is blocked or disabled and a violent mob descends upon my location; or if a small team of jihadis armed with fully automatic AKs decides to make a religious statement in my location. So I carry a light-but-effective chest rig, too.
I carry my Haley Strategic Disruptive Environments chest rig in the driver’s-side door panel of my truck.
Note that the rig is fitted to my body size and the ends of the straps are wound up with 100MPH tape, so there are no loose ends flopping around.
The rig’s contents include:
- 4 full rifle magazines
- 2 full pistol magazines (for my EDC pistol)
- 6″ compression bandage
- write-in-the-rain pen and pad
These—along with the med kit in my truck that quickly clips onto the chest rig, the tourniquet, flashlight, and multi-tool in my pocket, and the knife and phone on my belt—are a nice complement to my EDC pistol and rifle. With these I can shoot, move, communicate, and treat a serious wound.
It is rather unlikely that I’ll ever need to employ my truck rig’s capabilities. But it’s also rather unlikely one would ever need to employ a fire extinguisher. However, as history clearly illustrates: better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
In what condition is every gun you own right now? Unloaded? Loaded? Loaded and chambered? Is the external safety gadget on or off, for each firearm? Are they in different conditions or all the same? How do you know? Are you 100% certain or would you have to do a press check to be sure? Does everyone in your household know with certainty the condition of each firearm you own without touching it? How?
This is not a situation you can treat with casual negligence. If you own one or more firearms, responsibility requires that you and everyone in your household know at all times with 100% certainty the condition of every one of them. If you or they do not, you must fix that situation. Right now.
This means that for any of your firearms, holstered on your person, stored, staged…no matter where or how they are placed, located, or carried, there should never be a moment where you or anyone else in your household has to wonder whether it is unloaded, loaded and/or chambered, or if a “safety” selector is on or off. In the event someone in your household finds a firearm they did not expect to find (in a closet, in a drawer, etc…) or if they grab it in a time of desperate need, they can be certain of its current condition even without touching it, and be able to act deliberately rather than tentatively.
And, by the way, this is an easy standard to maintain when you use a system of simple conventions.
A System of Certainty
Here is a simple system that I know from experience works well to ensure you and those in your home never have to lean on discrete memory in order to know any of your guns’ condition. So long as you have no children younger than 6 to 9 in the home, even if just on occasion, System 1 is likely best for you. Otherwise, System 2 is likely best.
System 1 Conventions:
- All guns are always loaded, except while being cleaned, no matter whether they’re currently carried, stored, or staged.
- All pistols in a holster are loaded and chambered, whether on your person, stored in a safe, staged for home defense or even if in a range bag; holstered means chambered.
- All semi-auto/auto rifles have the bolt closed on an empty chamber (with a full magazine loaded, per convention 1) and the selector is on safe (this convention includes any “pistol”-configured AR or AK firearms).
- For pistols, bolt rifles, and shotguns, if there is an external safety control, the control is set to fire. Always and without exception.
You might use slightly different conventions. Maybe your pistols in holsters are not chambered. Maybe your semi-auto/auto rifles are chambered. I don’t recommend those approaches, but they may be appropriate for your situation. The point is to have as much blanket consistency as is practicable.
If you’re going to keep any of your guns unloaded, it is then imperative that you keep ALL guns unloaded (convention 1 must be 100% applicable to all guns not currently on your person) and perhaps opt for System 2 (below).
A System Variation
System 1 conventions might not work well for you if you have young children – and/or young children are sometimes in the home, like grandchildren, neighbors’ kids, or friends’ children. As such, System 2 might be best for you.
System 2 Conventions:
- All guns stored or staged, are always unloaded (and yet always treated as though they are loaded).
- A pistol carried on your person is always loaded and chambered (and in a holster).
It’s no more complicated than this. Once your children are of a certain age (that you determine, perhaps around 6 to 9 years old) and properly trained, it is best that you change to the more relevant and appropriate System 1 conventions.
For Carry & Training
If you don’t have an inviolate rule regarding the condition of your carry gun at all times, you cannot act deliberately when required. Instead, because of ignorance or second guessing or a simple mistake, you must act tentatively or mistakenly. This sort of irresponsibility can easily cost you your life, or the life of someone you love.
Component to the aforementioned systems, to gun safety, and to carry competence is the fact that one should never reholster an unloaded pistol; not at home, not in training, not in a class: never. When you’re training at the range and drawing from and returning to a holster, and run empty, you must either reload the pistol before reholstering – or – place the pistol on a barrel, table, or bench and pointed in a safe direction with the action open until you are ready to reload it.
If you get into the habit of sometimes, even rarely, having an unloaded pistol in your holster, you will never again be able to be sure of your gun’s status. You may think you can, but you are wrong and 100% guaranteed to fail.
And yes, this means that if an instructor requires that you have an unloaded or even un-chambered pistol in your holster during a class, don’t take that class. It stands to reason that if you are unsure about the conventions of an instructor’s class, discuss this matter with them and explain your inviolate personal rule before you commit to the class. It is likely that accommodations can be made. If not, you know your choice.
To engage in dry-fire practice you have to introduce a mild variation into your system. While the gun carried on your person will still be loaded, it will just be loaded with snap caps rather than with live ammunition.
For dry-fire practice you will unload your firearm and take it, your magazine(s), and snap caps into a different room where no live ammunition is present, and charge your magazine(s) with the snap caps, which you will load and chamber into your pistol before holstering it. If you have a gun that has a workable trigger and doesn’t need to be charged for each dry shot, use mags loaded with snap caps anyway so that you don’t get into the habit of being okay with an empty gun (you must never put an empty gun into your holster).
When you’re finished with dry-fire practice, reverse the process and take your now-empty gun back to where your ammo & mags are (the one place where you load, unload, and clean your guns) and return it to its proper condition; be that loaded or unloaded for storage – or loaded, to again be carried on your person (in which case I highly recommend repeating, out loud, “My gun is hot now, and loaded with live ammo,” a few times before getting on with your day.
Human beings are creatures of habit. The only way to eliminate negligent habits is to forge unconscious, deliberately uncompromising, safe habits (as described in the 4 Rules of Firearm Safety) and to never rely on gadgets, mechanics, or technology in place of individual responsibility.
A firearm cannot be safe or unsafe. A person is safe or unsafe. No firearm gadget or lever can make an unsafe person safe with a firearm. Graveyards are filled with the victims of those who negligently believed otherwise.
You do not want or need the anxiety of ever wondering whether your gun or one of your many guns is loaded or unloaded, chambered or un-chambered, safety on or off. These are things that responsibility requires you and your household members know with 100% certainty at all times.
Use a system. Make sure everyone in your home knows the system. Conduct periodic pop quizzes to ensure everyone is on the same page. Be safe and be certain.
By Sergeant First Class Joe Frick.
- Forget about knives, bats and fists. Bring a gun. Preferably, bring at least two guns. Bring all of your friends who have guns. Bring four times the ammunition you think you could ever need.
- Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammunition is cheap – life is expensive. If you shoot inside, buckshot is your friend. A new wall is cheap – funerals are expensive
- Only hits count. The only thing worse than a miss is a slow miss.
- If your shooting stance is good, you’re probably not moving fast enough or using cover correctly.
- Move away from your attacker and go to cover. Distance is your friend. (Bulletproof cover and diagonal or lateral movement are preferred.)
- If you can choose what to bring to a gunfight, bring a semi or full-automatic long gun and a friend with a long gun.
- In ten years nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance, or tactics. They will only remember who lived.
- If you are not shooting, you should be communicating, reloading, and running. Yell “Fire!” Why “Fire”? Cops will come with the Fire Department, sirens often scare off the bad guys, or at least cause then to lose concentration and will…. and who is going to summon help if you yell “Intruder,” “Glock” or “Winchester?”
- Accuracy is relative: most combat shooting standards will be more dependent on “pucker factor” than the inherent accuracy of the gun.
- Someday someone may kill you with your own gun, but they should have to beat you to death with it because it is empty.
- Always cheat, always win. The only unfair fight is the one you lose.
- Have a plan.
- Have a back-up plan, because the first one won’t work. “No battle plan ever survives 10 seconds past first contact with an enemy.”
- Use cover or concealment as much as possible, but remember, sheetrock walls and the like stop nothing but your pulse when bullets tear through them.
- Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours.
- Don’t drop your guard.
- Always tactical load and threat scan 360 degrees. Practice reloading one-handed and off-hand shooting. That’s how you live if hit in your “good” side.
- Watch their hands. Hands kill. Smiles, frowns and other facial expressions don’t (In God we trust. Everyone else keep your hands where I can see them.)
- Decide NOW to always be aggressive ENOUGH, quickly ENOUGH.
- The faster you finish the fight, the less shot you will get.
- Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet if necessary, because they may want to kill you.
- Be courteous to everyone, overly friendly to no one.
- Your number one option for personal security is a lifelong commitment to avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation.
- Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun, the caliber of which does not start with anything smaller than “4”.
- Use a gun that works EVERY TIME. “All skill is in vain when an Angel blows the powder from the flintlock of your musket.” At a practice session, throw you gun into the mud, then make sure it still works. You can clean it later.
- Practice shooting in the dark, with someone shouting at you, when out of breath, etc.
- Regardless of whether justified of not, you will feel sad about killing another human being. It is better to be sad than to be room temperature.
- The only thing you EVER say afterwards is, “He said he was going to kill me. I believed him. I’m sorry, Officer, but I’m very upset now. I can’t say anything more. Please speak with my attorney.”
The shooting enthusiasm blog Range365 published a post recently wherein the author, David Maccar observed:
“With proper training, this kind of handgun is perfectly safe, but there’s no way to train for holster obstructions, short of tactile or visual inspection of the holster before inserting the gun each time—which is hardly practical.”
This is an objectively false and dangerous statement. Not only is visual inspection of your holster before inserting the gun practical, it is a responsible imperative. To suggest otherwise in a gun publication is, at best, grossly ill advised and, at worst, criminally negligent.
Visually inspecting the holster and looking the handgun all the way into the holster—while holstering in a reluctant fashion—is compulsory firearm safety. It’s what safe gun handlers do. Those who do not habitually execute this procedure are unsafe; a danger to themselves and others. As such, they should train in proper fashion to make proper reholstering habitual before strapping on a loaded firearm ever again.
Given the gravity of this mistake, I’m personally appalled at Range365 for letting such an obviously irresponsible statement escape their editing process.
It is relevant to point out that the post in question is one dealing with a new-ish accessory for Glock pistols, called the Glock Striker Control Device (SCD) from the Tau Development Group, commonly called The Gadget. Its effective purpose—one clearly supported by the blog post in question—is to compel Glock owners to dispense with compulsory, habitual safety and instead entrust safety (and their firearm’s reliability) to an add-on accessory.
A firearm is neither safe nor unsafe. Only a person is safe or unsafe. A safe individual is one who adheres to the 4 rules of gun safety without compromise and who never, ever cedes their responsibility to a mechanism or gadget. As this Gadget trains gun carriers to dispense with habitual safe practices, it is—by definition—a device designed to encourage firearms negligence. Responsible individuals must not entertain ideas of utilizing this or any other similarly destructive device.
This ridiculous, dangerous device aside, those who operate Range365 should reconsider their policies and advice. Everyone who touches firearms should adhere to the 4 rules of gun safety and otherwise exercise safe practices and habits with firearms…instead of becoming lazy and complacent; secure in the delusion that a gadget will take up their negligent slack.
Handling firearms comes with a mandate: habitual, uncompromising firearm safety. Following this mandate keeps us and those around us safe. The rules of gun safety are vital not just for our own safety, but for the fact that often when we’re handling guns we’re surrounded by other people.
Despite this mandate, I see unsafe gun handling every time I go to the range. Not sometimes, not most of the time, but every time I’m at a gun range.
Safe shooters unconsciously adhere to the four rules of gun safety. These rules are perfect and need no addition to ensure that our actions cause no harm to ourselves or others. What they do not account for, however, is the fact that some of the people who handle guns are incompetent, unsafe, or otherwise fail in their adherence to these important four rules. Therefore, responsibility requires that we follow yet another rule. A fifth rule.
The 5th Rule of Gun Safety:
“Pay attention to where other peoples’ muzzles are pointing.”
This “rule” is handwritten on the whiteboard at the outdoor practical range I visit once or twice every week. There are several skills classes taught each week at this range and the safety briefing given to the students in each of these classes includes a reference to this rule. And with good reason.
I understand that this extra rule of gun safety was proposed candidly one day by Brian, one of the instructors there at Proactive Defense. Makes perfect sense. With a number of shooters training on the line in one of the bays—students in a class or just people out for a day’s training and with all of the involved manipulation—there are a lot of gun muzzles for a range officer or an instructor to monitor. There are too many, in fact, from moment to moment. Therefore, he recognized, if we’re going to be safe we all have to keep track of where nearby muzzles are pointed.
Brian’s logical epiphany is not something he coined or otherwise imagined first. Situational awareness is common among responsible people, especially at the gun range. But like the other four rules of gun safety, this one is not something the average citizen thinks about and it cannot simply be learned. Gun-safety rules can be learned in 5 minutes, but this learning is irrelevant until after months of continual forging of unconscious habit. Like the other four rules of firearm safety, this one has to be drilled into the student and rehearsed time and time again until it becomes a habitual action one performs moment to moment, with all manner of manipulations, and under all sorts of circumstances without ever thinking about it. Finally, one becomes almost incapable of unsafe gun manipulation and is, finally, safe with guns. But before this can happen, the idea of a rule must be codified. That codification is precisely what Brian and my friends at Proactive Defense have accomplished, and then train into their students.
So, if you are a gun owner, here is your mandate—the fifth rule you must internalize and forge into an unconscious habit: pay attention to where the peoples’ muzzles are pointing. Despite the continual efforts of organizations and individuals, some of the people around you who are manipulating and firing guns have no grasp of the four rules of gun safety. Your life is at risk and only your vigilance can preserve it.
Be responsible. Be vigilant. Pay attention to where other peoples’ muzzles are pointing. When you observe someone violate one of the vital rules of gun safety, don’t hesitate but offer a kind-but-firm admonishment—or ask a range officer to be your proxy. Impress upon your fellow gun enthusiasts the imperative of gun safety. Live to train another day and help others to do the same.
Illustrations by the author
If you carry one or more concealed weapons and other everyday-carry (EDC) kit, proper organization can make you more comfortable and your EDC kit less cumbersome. One of the best ways to organize your EDC kit is to exploit your belt to the fullest advantage, freeing up your pockets in some measure.
For the purposes of this article, and as a general rule, I suggest that proper EDC kit should include all of the following:
- at least 1 pistol
- 2 spare magazines (this is a time of war; 2 extra mags is compulsory)
- at least one knife (flip knife and/or fixed-blade fighting knife)
The fixed-blade knife recommendation is in addition to a flip/folder-knife, as a fast-access or backup weapon option for those who have been trained and have a fighting plan for knife employment. Otherwise, I believe a fixed blade is entirely optional. As a general rule, you should only carry what you’re trained to carry. Since a tourniquet is compulsory, do get trained in how to use a tourniquet. It could save your life or the life of someone you love.
If you wear a shirt un-tucked…
While wearing an un-tucked shirt, I find it very easy to conceal a host of items on my belt. I spend almost every day with the Option A or Option B loadouts shown below. This approach has four items on my belt, freeing my pockets for other items. With an un-tucked shirt, I highly recommend keeping your spare magazine(s) on your belt. Mags are heavy and can wear out a pocket quickly. Also, it is important that your spare magazines be properly oriented for fumble-free reloads.
Note: These loadouts are configured for righties. If you’re a lefty, just flip the positions.
Option A Loadout
Options A’s belt loadout has an AIWB holster, smartphone in a kydex holster, TDI knife in a Kydex sheath, and two spare magazines in a Kydex OWB holster. Everything except the pistol is carried behind the body’s lateral centerline, for better concealment.
Notice that the appendix position for the pistol works best with the belt buckle moved off center.
Carried in Pockets:
- flip knife
A pistol carried in the appendix position conceals better than any other option. OWB magazine pouch allows for fast, easy access for reloads and conceals perfectly. With the phone and magazines carried on the belt, pockets are more easily organized. The rear position of the TDI knife makes for more comfortable sitting and bending.
While out of the way and comfortable, the rear position for the fighting knife is more difficult and takes longer to get to in a violent situation. Also, as it lays horizontal, the TDI knife is pretty much accessible with the left hand only.
Option B Loadout
Options A’s belt loadout has an AIWB holster, smartphone in a kydex holster, two spare magazines in a Kydex OWB holster, and a vertically-mounded fixed-blade fighting knife on the weak side.
This option is identical to Option A, except for the position, orientation, and style of the fighting knife.
Carried in Pockets:
- flip knife
A pistol carried in the appendix position conceals better than any other option. OWB magazine pouch allows for fast, easy access for reloads. With the phone and magazines carried on the belt, pockets are more easily organized. The fighting knife is in excellent position for easy and fast weak-hand deployment.
The longer, vertical mount for the fighting knife can sometimes be uncomfortable for some folks, especially when sitting. Discomfort can be mitigated by positioning the knife more to the side (at 9 o’clock).
Option C Loadout
Options C’s belt loadout has an IWB hybrid-style holster, tourniquet, two spare magazines in a Kydex OWB holster, and a push knife in a Kydex holster.
Carried in Pockets:
- flip knife
The side-rear hybrid-style IWB holster and position is typically more comfortable than appendix-position carry. The belt-mounted tourniquet solves what can be an awkward carry issue (sometimes not best suited to a pocket). A push knife is not as long as a typical fixed-blade EDC knife so it can be more comfortable and be positioned more toward the front.
The 3-5 o’clock position of the primary weapon takes longer to get to and is more difficult to defend (retention). The push knife can be a more awkward weapon to fight with, especially without getting specialized training. A phone is large and can be cumbersome to keep all day in a pocket (often requiring nothing else live in that pocket).
Option D Loadout
Options D’s belt loadout has an IWB hybrid-style holster, tourniquet, and two spare magazines in a Kydex OWB holster.
This loadout is just like Option C, but without a fixed-blade knife.
Carried in Pockets:
- flip knife
With most of the same advantages as Option C, this option has one less item on the belt.
With most of the same disadvantages as Option C, the lack of a fixed-blade knife means having to use a slow-to-deploy flip-knife as a non-gun or backup weapon if needed.
Option E Loadout
Options E’s belt loadout has an IWB hybrid-style holster and two spare magazines in a Kydex OWB holster.
This loadout is just like Option D, but without a belt-mounted tourniquet.
Carried in Pockets:
- flip knife
With only a primary firearm and backup magazines on the belt, the diminished belt loadout means less weight and bulk on the belt.
With only a gun and ammo on the belt, everything else must be carried in pockets. Unless you’re wearing 5.11s, with extra pockets, it’ll be difficult to comfortably and strategically carry a phone, flashlight, tourniquet, flip knife, and multi-tool in your pockets. Also, there is no fixed-blade knife to use as a fast-deploy or backup weapon.
If you wear a shirt tucked…
A tucked shirt presents some challenges to concealed carry and to advisable and comfortable EDC kit complement carry. A tucked-in shirt generally means a smaller gun and only a single IWB magazine pouch (I’ve never seen a comfortable way to carry 2 mags inside the waistband). While one could carry an additional magazine in the pocket, the pockets will already be loaded down with other EDC kit. Not optimal.
While a phone can certainly be belt-carried with a tucked-in shirt, I’m not showing that option here as I don’t think a phone should be a visible fixture on a person. Surely, some with less concern for courtesy will disagree with me.
Option F Loadout
Options F’s belt loadout has either an an AIWB holster or an IWB hybrid-style holster and one spare magazine in a Kydex or leather IWB holster (all covered under a tucked shirt). Of course one could wear a Kydex holster in the 3-5 o’clock position, too.
Carried in Pockets:
- flip knife
Tuckable holsters for both the pistol and spare magazine allow for workplace or formal dress with good concealability (with a smaller gun model).
IWB carry with a tucked shirt typically, if not always, means a smaller gun than one should otherwise carry (especially in a time of war, like now). The single spare magazine means less ammo and only one malfunction-replacement option. The exposed belt means no good option to carry other important EDC kit outside of the pockets.
Option G Loadout
Options G offers a variation of Option F’s approach. Instead of carrying a pistol and a spare magazine, you might carry a primary pistol and a backup gun. This approach can be accomplished in a number of ways (spare gun in ankle holster or carried off-body—not recommended), but I’m showing here in what is the best configuration with both guns on the belt. One is in appendix position and one is in 3-5 o’clock position.
Carried in Pockets:
- flip knife
Tuckable holsters for both the pistol and spare magazine allow for workplace or formal dress with good concealability (with a smaller gun model). Having a backup gun rather than a spare magazine means a faster transition should your primary run empty or malfunction beyond quick repair. There is an added advantage of having the option to arm a compatriot should a prolonged life-threatening situation develop.
A backup gun will generally be one smaller than your primary gun. This can present challenges with respect to ammunition caliber match and magazine compatibility between the two guns (it’s always best to have magazine compatibility—like primary is a G19 and backup is a G26, etc…). Also, two guns on your belt can be a bit bulky for some folks.
While there are many other possible configurations you might opt for, the options shown here outline some of the primary organization plans you might consider. Some folks may find fault with prescribing two extra double-stack magazines as compulsory, but we are at war right now. That war may break out at any time at any place we frequent during the day and the attackers may number half a dozen, be well trained, and be armed with rifles. Putting them down or getting to safety could take a while and require a lot of ammunition expenditure.
Carrying a bunch of EDC kit needn’t be overly cumbersome or uncomfortable. Organization helps. I hope you find the presented options useful and thought provoking for your own approach considerations.